25th Trillium Award

Brick Books Coast to Coast: An Interview with Karen Enns

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Karen Enns

This spring, Brick Book poets Karen Enns, Joanna Lilley, Jane Munro and Arleen Paré are embarking on a cross-Canada poetry tour, reading from their new collections to audiences coast to coast. The poets will make three stops in Ontario. You can catch their readings in Toronto on May 9, in Kingston on May 12 and in Ottawa on May 13.

For our readers outside of Ontario, you can also catch their readings in Victoria, B.C. on April 29, in Vancouver, B.C. on April 30, in Calgary, AB on May 6, in Winnipeg, MB on May 7, in Montreal, PQ on May 14 and in Fredericton, NB on May 15. For more info on these readings, please visit the Brick Books website.

In this interview, Karen Enns talks to us about looking forward to train travel, how the creative process of being a musician mimics that of a writer and the luxury of enjoying a cup of coffee overlooking water.

Open Book:

Tell us about the book you?ll be reading from on your cross-Canada tour.

Karen Enns:

The poems in Ordinary Hours were written without an overarching theme in mind, but the idea of stillness comes up often, in one way or another. With stillness comes attention?to the ordinary details of a life, to beauty, to sound or the absence of sound, to the world outside of ourselves.


How do you manage the shift between being a solitary writer and a public reader?


In some ways it seems like a real shift, but in other ways, moving from the private act of writing to reading in a public space is a very natural extension of the writing process. Most art is made in solitude and then becomes part of a wider cultural conversation. I try to see it framed in this way so that the shift itself doesn?t become a preoccupation. My perspective is influenced by my experience as a musician; the creative process is different, but there are similarities.


What is one luxury you allow yourself when you go "on tour" with a book?


I haven?t really gone on tour with a book before, at least, not to this extent, so I?m not quite sure what to expect. I imagine a luxury might be having a cup of coffee in some bright cafe overlooking water, or simply having time to go for a walk.


What books will you pack with you for your cross-Canada journey?


I?m not quite sure what I?ll be reading next month, but I know the new books by my fellow touring poets are on the list. I?ve also just picked up Sue Goyette?s book of poems, Ocean, which I?m looking forward to reading. I usually travel with a few collections of short fiction and have been waiting to read Kawabata?s Palm-of-the-Hand Stories.


What are you most looking forward to about your cross-Canada reading tour?


Aside from the obvious pleasure of seeing family and friends along the way, I?m looking forward to some train travel and to seeing parts of the country I haven?t seen before.


Karen Enns grew up in a Mennonite farming community in southern Ontario. She currently lives and writes in Victoria, B.C., where she works as a private piano instructor. Her first book of poetry, That Other Beauty, was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award.

For more information about Ordinary Hours please visit the Brick Books website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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